I love to cook but I don't have a long history of it. When I was first married my husband did the bulk of the cooking but one summer he was on a business trip that was supposed to be 4 days and ended up being 3 weeks. I hated having to go pick something up every night and the fact that I, a college educated reasonably intelligent woman, couldn't cook a simple meal started to annoy me so I became determined to learn how and than discovered that I enjoyed it. But because of my not so standard start I don't feel like I really have the fundamentals down and wanted to take some basic cooking classes as well as being absolutely fascinated with what culinary school must be like.
This book was like following Flinn through her time as a student at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. We feel out of our element right along with her as she accidentally sits in front of the Japanese interpreter at the introductory lecture, we stress during the presentations of her dishes during to the chefs, and we worry through the exams for Basic, Intermediate and Superior cuisine. Along the way we are right along with her as she navigates life in Paris, makes friends, and develops her relationship with her boyfriend, Mike.
I absolutely adored how she did the chapters. Each chapter is a different culinary lesson as well as a different thing that's going on in her non-school life. Then of course it ends with a recipe - usually something she learned but always something that applied to the events of the chapter. Flinn's voice is wonderful. It's like catching up with friend who is going to culinary school. She relays the events with a lot of humor and very little pretension. I loved seeing the in-class politics and just the inner-workings of the school. Am I planning on going to Le Cordon Bleu? No, I don't see that in my future but I thoroughly enjoyed going through the coursework with Kathleen.
I also discovered this recipe for
Potage de Poulet aux Nouilles, ave de l'Ail et des Herbes
(Chicken Noodle Soup with Garlic and Herbs)
1 1/2 lbs chicken pieces, skin removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 chopped onion
2 large chopped carrots
2 stalks chopped celery
1/2 cup white wine
5 quarts chicken stock
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
1/2 bunch parsley, 1/2 bunch thyme, 3 bay leaves, tied together
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 ounces, wide noodles
1/2 teaspoon salt, a few cranks pepper
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley (optional)
Rinse the chicken under cold water; pat dry. Trim any excess fat. Set aside.
In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring regularly, until softened. Add the white wine and stir the bottom to loosen any brown bits as it reduces by one half. Add the stock. Heat through. Add the chicken. Bring to a low boil, skimming fat and foam from the surface. When it appears that no more skimming is necessary, drop the heat to a simmer and add the herbs. Simmer partially covered for a half hour. Add the garlic. Simmer another half hour. Remove the chicken from the soup with tongs. Continue to simmer the liquid for a few moments while the chicken cools. Remove the meat from the chicken and shred it into pieces and return to the pot. Add the noodles and increase the heat to a gentle boil, then cook until soft. Skim off any foam and check seasonings, adding salt and pepper as needed. Remove tied herbs. Stir in the parsley. Makes enough for a couple of days with the flu.
Doesn't this sound good? All herby and garlicy and comforting for those days you're feeling under the weather! Though I'm not planning on waiting for illness to give this a recipe a try and I'm definitely not waiting another year and a half to read Flinn's 2nd book - A Kitchen Counter Cooking School.
Today I'm linking up with Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads